Keep My Lamp Burning

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28

One of the sweetest joys of being a grandparent is being able to read to our boys at bedtime when we are with them, and then having the opportunity to tuck them in before they sleep. Bob and I both cherish this time as we each take turns with one, then the other, and we cozy up in a chair and read book after book. Cole looks forward to it as much as we do, but Miles humors us! He knows how much we love it, but since he has been reading on his own, he often reads to us – which is great.  But at 7, we know these times with him will soon end!

Recently while we were visiting, we tucked them in, gave them hugs and kisses and left them to sleep. When I went back later to check, Miles was still awake and said he was having trouble falling asleep. He asked if I would sit in his room until he did. Of course, I was more than happy to and smiled as I waited, thinking of how much joy these little boys bring and how blessed I am to be their Nan.

As I sat there quietly in the darkness, his night light was on, and all I could see was the outline of his body lying snuggly under the covers. He whispered once or twice, “I still can’t sleep, Nan,” and I gently reassured him that he was really tired and that he would fall asleep soon

Within moments, his quiet, steady breathing signaled sleep. I just kept sitting there with him, wanting my presence to make him feel secure and loved. But before I left, I just needed to see that sweet little face one more time. I turned on his lamp, brushed his forehead with a kiss, and said a prayer that God would continue to keep him in His care.

How grateful I was for the light to truly see that all was well and that he was peacefully at rest.  How grateful I was that the light of God’s love was shining brightly over him, as well.

Light – something that makes it possible for us to see clearly things as they really are. Light reveals. It dispels fear. It brings hope. It symbolizes protection.

Scripture tells us that light is inherently God, and the world is filled with darkness, evil, and hopelessness. Without the light of His love, we would stumble around in the darkness and become lost.  In John 8:12, we read, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ “

How we need this Savior and His light to show us the way, to illuminate our minds, hearts, and will to His truths as we walk through life. No amount of darkness can ever dispel the presence of His power and His love for us. The light of His love and compassion can bring such peace and comfort to our hearts as we feel His presence with us as He guides and directs our path. He is the only One who can enlighten our spirits and be “our candle” in the darkness. “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning.”

May we let His light shine in us and light up the darkness around us for others to see. May our lamps always burn brightly in a world filled with darkness and despair. May we bring hope, peace, and comfort to a world longing for the light of His love.


Dear Lord, what a dark world we live in. You are indeed the lamp and the light that guides our way. May your light continue to grow in us and with it, may we show others the love, assurance, hope, and joy that a life in you can bring. Amen  

The Lord is With You

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 

“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about? . . . But now the Lord has abandoned us . . . ” Judges 6: 12 – 13

Do you believe in miracles? Have you ever experienced one? Do you sometimes feel as if you just need a small one to give you assurance that God hasn’t abandoned you and is still with us?

We can realize that life on this earth is a miracle in itself as the sun rises and sets, the moon and stars appear in the skies, the rains fall, there is air to breathe, babies are born, and our bodies work as miraculously as they do. But sometimes we want more – just to give us the confidence that He is with us, watching over us with His love and care.

A young man from the pages of Scripture also needed a sign, and the story is known as “Gideon and the fleece.” Israel had once again drifted away from God after they were delivered into their Promised Land and were being ravaged by other eastern nations. While serving as a judge and military leader to his people, Gideon was visited by an angel of the Lord who told him to free the people from the terror of their enemies.

But humble Gideon was unsure of his ability and of God’s command. The angel encouraged him on with these words, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

But Gideon questioned him with the response, If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about?”  

The Lord assured him that He would be with him to fight the battle, but Gideon needed more. It was as if he was saying to the Creator of the Universe, “God, I need to see a miracle. I need to know it’s really you.” 

He then laid a wool fleece on the ground, asking God to “first make it wet when the ground around it was dry,” and if He did so, He would know God was with him and that He could save Israel by his own hand. He goes even further by making one more request – “this time make the fleece dry and the ground wet.” 

God patiently gave Gideon the signs he had asked for, but in doing so, He gave him the strength and power to believe that His divine presence was with Him and that He could carry out the task before him, which he did.

God understands our fears and He covers us with His love and compassion. He will be patient with us and give us His power to do amazing things we could never do on our own.

Perhaps God gave us this story as a reminder of His presence with us, always helping to fight any battles we might face in life. For we can’t always base our faith on the “requested” miracles around us as Gideon did. God is not a God of “If this happens, I will be with you”,  but He is the God of “I AM” with you.

He is present with us in our PRESENT time and in our PRESENT situations. Our perception of our amazing God and what He can do is often much too small. Our world is full of His wonders and miracles. How many countless interventions He must perform in our lives and in those we care about that we will never know, and how many other wondrous events, we fail to recognize right before us.

We need to expand our view of who God is and see Him all around us, for “our Lord is always with us” and His miracles never end!


Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you for never leaving us, but always gracing us with your presence, strength, courage, and love. Thank you for the stories in your Word that assure us of the strength and power we can find in you. Amen

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

There is nothing more peaceful than waking early in the morning and having some time in the quiet darkness before rising and beginning the day.

How rare it is to be able to listen to the silence and enjoy the calm and quiet. It seems as if we are always in such a rush and in a state of commotion. But during these moments, we can rest our hearts and minds with no sounds of radio or TV, no music blaring in our ears, no cell phones ringing, no chatter of voices or loud noises, or even the humming of machines or the roar of motor vehicles. Just quiet peace. We all need this time of stillness and restful solitude. And what better way to enjoy it than by saying a silent prayer and asking God to join us in the quietness!

We are such restless beings, and being still and quiet is not our way. Strangely, it seems as if we have become accustomed to noise and chaos and we become uncomfortable without it. Yet, we need these times of quiet reflection, to let go of the tensions of our lives for just a few moments and rest our minds of distractions and worries. We need these times of silence to rest before God and to let Him refresh our spirits and replenish our souls.

Being still with Him is often a part of prayer that we neglect and fail to appreciate. We are so intent on lifting our concerns before Him, trying to remember all the ways we need to praise Him, and thinking of the ways we may need to ask for His grace, that we fail to just enjoy spending time in His presence and listening for His quiet, still “voice” to us.

We forget that prayer is communication, and He longs to speak to us as much as He wants to hear from us. His desire is to have a personal, loving relationship with each one of us. By being still before Him, we are giving Him the opportunity to reveal Himself to us, to reassure us of His strength and love, or to even place a thought in our minds and hearts to help us deal with a situation, fear, or concern we may be struggling with.

We may not always hear His “voice” as we wait with breathless anticipation of what He has to say to us, but in place of words, He may just want to give us a reminder of His reassuring presence and love. We honor Him by going before Him in stillness.  We can find joy in the moments we share with Him and find “a peace that surpasses all understanding.” 

What greater gift could there be! May we exalt His most Holy name and give Him praise as we spend time in His loving presence.


Our most loving God, thank you for your quiet peace that can settle our anxious minds and hearts, not only for today, but for the  future. May we come to you, spend time with you, and rest in your stillness, and may we place our trust and hope in you for all time. Amen

Take Note of This

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1: 19 – 20

Scripture constantly amazes me with its truths and practical advice God wants to give us on what we should do and why.  =This verse is no exception as we are told by James, the earthly brother of Jesus and a leader of the early church, to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” 

He has given us some godly advice in dealing with some of these important issues in life for the people of his day and especially for us in our present time. These are topics we don’t often think about, but they are vitally important for building loving and trusting relationships.

Notice  “quick to listen” is listed first in importance. Why is this so difficult for us to do? We are probably all familiar with the old saying that says, “God gave us one mouth and two ears and that should give us a good idea of how much talking we should do compared to listening.”

And apparently that is true because I found this fascinating little tidbit. (Isn’t it amazing what we can find on the web?) “The average human can speak about 150 – 200 words a minute, (obviously some people can defy nature and talk much faster), but a person’s brain is able to listen to about 800 words a minute.” 

Apparently, God has designed us in such a way that He encourages us to be slow to speak and swift to hear. How easily we forget!

But it’s also amazing how something will trigger a memory, for this verse reminded me of a lesson I taught years ago on communication skills and being a good listener. (And of course, I found those tips on the site, as well!)  Nothing like a refresher course to help us become who God wants us to be.

1. Remove all distractions. (Good one! Ever been frustrated by trying to talk to someone while they are on their I- Phone, watching TV, or reading a book? Indeed frustrating! Give the person your complete attention,)

2. Be present. (Concentrate on really hearing and listening to the speaker rather than thinking of something else.)

3. Wait for person to finish speaking. (How many times are we more focused on how we are going to respond, or we interrupt the speaker, rather than actually listening to the person?)

4. Don’t assume anything. (You may think you know what the person is going to say, but you may not. Listen!)

5. Look for what lies behind the words. (Don’t just listen, but notice facial expressions, tone of voice, body language – What is the person feeling and trying to convey as they speak?)

6. Clarify to ensure you got it. (And so the speaker will know you heard, restate what they said, such as, “So are you telling me that you are really hurt by my comment, or that you are angry at me?)

7. Ask questions. (It shows that you truly want to understand with a question such as, “Why did you say that I don’t care? Why would you think that?”)

Great reminders of the importance of making the person we are listening to understand that we care and truly want to know how they feel. God wants us to love and appreciate each other and be the best we can be. Listening to each other demonstrates that we do!

Also we need to think before we speak and weigh our words. We understand that words once spoken cannot be taken back and that much hurt or misunderstanding can be avoided. We might need to calm ourselves and take a deep breath before overreacting which helps us be “slow to anger”, as well. For we know too that anger interferes with our ability to think rationally. How many people, in a moment of anger, have done something, said something, or made a decision that would affect the entire course of their lives? How much we can regret later those words and things we do out of anger! Our outrage and frustration will never help us achieve loving relationships, and it certainly doesn’t reflect the person God wants us to be.

God commands us to love each other and He even gives us His own timely “tips” for showing us how to love more completely: “Listen, be slow to speak and slow to anger!”


Dear God, help us to show those around us that we care by truly being willing to listen to what they have to say and by trying to understand how they feel. Help us to weigh our words and think before we speak. Help us to use understanding, love, and patience, instead of anger. May we use your Spirit in us to always be more compassionate and loving to those around us by our actions and words. Amen

God’s Grace is Sufficient

The Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9 – 10

During the last few days, I have had several people on my mind and heart. Just like we all do, there are times when I feel so burdened for others, my heart aches for what they are going through, and my thoughts and prayers are constantly with them.

Sometimes we just don’t understand and we may question why, but gratefully we have a God who understands how we feel. He understands that I, or any of us, would find it almost impossible to express joy or delight in their painful circumstances, or to give thanks for what they are going through. And we all realize how difficult it would be to find even the smallest amount of gratification in going through such agonizing situations ourselves.

Yet, I, like many of you, know from experience that these can be the times when we may grow closer to Him, when our faith may have the opportunity to grow, and when God may use our current situation, now or in the future, to bless others. I also know and believe that when we are weak, God will make us strong. The power of Christ will rest upon us and give us whatever strength and grace we need to get through these difficult times, and it will be sufficient and filled with His love. We can’t always see the big picture or understand why those we care about, or we ourselves, have to go through the painful things we do, but God does. Trust in Him we must. We have His promise that His grace will always be sufficient.

I love this little story which illustrates it so well:

“A little piece of wood once complained bitterly because its owner kept whittling at it, cutting it, and filling it with holes, but the one who was cutting it so remorselessly paid no attention to its complaining. He was making a flute out of that piece of ebony and he was too wise to desist from doing so, even though the wood complained bitterly. He seemed to say, ‘Little piece of wood, without these holes, and all this cutting, you would be a black stick for ever – just a useless piece of ebony. What I am doing may make you think that I am destroying you, but instead, I will change you into a flute, and your sweet music will charm the souls of men and comfort many a sorrowing heart. My cutting you is the making of you, for only then can you be a blessing in the world.’ ” 


Dear God, forgive us when we are weak and our trust is not what it should be. May we believe in your promises to lift us up with your strength and grace. Even when we don’t understand the things that happen in our lives, we know you do and that you will carry us through. Be with those who are experiencing painful and challenging circumstances and enfold them with your loving presence and comfort. Amen  

God Will Make You Great

 God himself will stoop down to make me great. Psalm 18:35

Our 4-year-old grandson, Cole, has such a sweet spirit and his enthusiasm for life is HUGE! He takes his play and different activities so seriously and is always so focused, imaginative, and resourceful. But when you ask him if he would like to try some of the activities Miles is doing, like playing chess, being on a basketball team, or learning to play golf with his granddad, he says, “No, I’m not really good at those! But I am great at some things!”

For awhile, I felt badly for him and thought, “He’s just feeling a little intimidated by his big brother and doesn’t want to try because he might not be as good as Miles.” But I soon changed my mind. This is a confident, little guy who knows what he likes, what he wants, and who he is. And basketball, chess, and golf just aren’t on his list right now! He is very content just being himself and feels no pressure to be like anyone else! I pray that never changes and he will always feel just as secure and positive about being the wonderful person he is.

But this is not true for most of us, is it? We are either constantly trying to be someone different because we think it will make us more liked or respected, or we simply accept who we are in a humble and unpretentious way. We all have our own individual talents, abilities, and skills, but not many of us would ever consider ourselves “great” in any sense of the word.

If the truth be known, most of us are probably insecure about most things – our appearance, abilities, and achievements. We tend to look to those around us for validation and worth, for we all want and need approval, acceptance, and appreciation.

But such praise and security from others can be fleeting and profoundly lacking. People may be untrustworthy and they often let us down. Only God’s love and care can satisfy our longings and fill our deepest needs of worth. He wants us to feel valued and appreciated for the unique individuals we are. We can believe His Word when He tells us that we are worthy of His love and promises, and if we are valued by Him, then we are certainly worthy of the love and respect of those around us.

God desires to reach down and make us great! Can you imagine? It’s almost as if we have to read these words again to fully understand. “God Himself will stoop down to make ME great! ” 

It’s beyond comprehension. Just the thought of Him reaching down and placing His hand upon us to make us more than we think we are, is so humbling. Life and its many experiences may have damaged us in numerous ways, but He loves us for the beings He created us to be and He knows who we can become. And if we love and trust Him with our lives, He will make us great beyond anything we could have ever imagined. What a promise!


Dear God, I am constantly in awe of the treasures we can find in your Word – your promises and the depth of your love for us. Thank you for not only creating us, but for wanting to make us more than we could ever be on our own. May we look, not to others, but to you for our validation and contentment, for only you can give us the confidence and hope we need. Amen

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

I love meaningful quotes and sayings that can so appropriately convey what we are feeling. These little expressions are often simplistic and easy to remember, but what wisdom they can hold. They offer “food for thought”, inspiration by letting our imaginations dream and hope, and they give us understanding of our deepest emotions. They may echo what we already know in our hearts, but can’t find the words to express. Or more importantly, they may help us recognize a truth about life that we have experienced, but haven’t been able to acknowledge and fully understand.

The following quotes seem to do the latter so well: “I am an old man and have known my troubles, but most of them never happened!” (Mark Twain)  Or how about these by Corrie Ten Boom: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but it does empty today of its strength”. And this is one of my favorites: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (She is the author of the book, The Hiding Place, in which she writes about how she, her father, and other family members helped save hundreds of Jewish lives during the Holocaust.)

These quotes are so meaningful, but no one can express the futility of worry more beautifully than the One who understands life above all others, the One who knew the pain and sacrifice of what the future would hold, but who “held” on to His loving Father with complete trust in Him. What words of truth He gives us with these words: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus knew that it is our human nature to worry, and He often spoke about the anxiety of worrying needlessly. He instructs His followers and all believers not to be concerned about what we will eat or drink, or about our bodies, or what we will wear. He reminds us of the care our Father gives to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and gives us these comforting words, “Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

How much time we waste worrying about things that never come about! How much fear and anxiety we put ourselves through that is unnecessary! It can deplete our energy, drain our emotions, and steal our joy. We can truly become so worried about tomorrow that we can’t even live for today.

If only we could remember to place our trust in God and turn it all over to Him, then we could live with so much more contentment and peace. For when we worry, it’s as if we have a lack of trust in God. We can get so consumed with our thoughts and our lives that we miss out on the small joys that God longs to give us. He desires for us to love each other through the difficult times and always be mindful of His strength and presence.

One day at a time – sometimes one hour at a time. May we place our concerns in His hands and trust in Him.


Dear Lord, we thank you for your strength, mercy, and presence to carry us through the difficult and challenging times of life. Help us to turn our fears and anxieties over to you and focus on today, and not worry about tomorrow. May we always lift up others by reminding them of your love and grace. Amen

The Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22

What a list of attributes to strive for! Would you be able to check each one of them off with confidence and know that you are living in a way that is pleasing to God?

I would like to think that I could check off a couple fairly quickly, but the others, I know I really need to work on. The biggest one for me is patience. I don’t do well waiting for anything, and it is really difficult for me to wait on news about a health issue about someone I care about, or to patiently wait for a resolution to a problem that is causing them great despair! I rationalize it as love and concern, but I realize it is also a failure on my part to trust – which means my ability to be faithful is weak. Then there’s self-control, and. . .  the list goes on.

Why are these things so hard for us? I think we all want to be filled with the fullness of His grace in each of these areas and we really try, but we also have to recognize that these are not qualities we can completely achieve on our own. We need His Spirit within us to do so. But before this Spirit can bring about these changes in us, we must make a deliberate, conscious effort to surrender our will to His and depend upon His grace and power to transform our hearts.

It’s not easy to give up that control over our lives that we long to have. But thankfully and miraculously, when we accepted Christ into our lives, He sent His Spirit to live in us and empower us to do things that we could never accomplish on our own – things such as being able to love unselfishly and unconditionally, to experience joy in the midst of all circumstances, to possess a quiet peace during difficult times, to express patience and perseverance, to always show kindness and to respond in goodness, to be faithful to God and others, to be gentle in spirit, and to use self-control and restraint in all areas of our lives.

Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome the weaknesses of our own human spirits. If we can do so, then we will be able to live fuller, richer lives, knowing we are being all He intended us to be.

I am so grateful that we have a loving Father who understands our frailties and sends His Spirit to live in us to remind us of the love, grace, strength, and power we can have through Him. May we utilize that power within us to fully experience all He has to offer and know that we have been given “the fruit of the Spirit.”


Dear God, thank you for your Spirit that lives within us. Help us to call upon the power you have given us to have the qualities that make up a true believer in Christ and that would give us a more abundant life. Amen

The Lord Delights in Truth

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. Proverbs 12:22

I miss the wholesome, old TV shows we use to watch! Most of us are familiar with “The Andy Griffith Show” that aired for so many years, with Andy Taylor, Opie, Aunt Bea, and Barney Fife! If you watched, you may remember the episode in which Opie teaches his dad a lesson about the importance of honesty in adults, as well as in kids!

Andy and Barney had been asked by the Mayberry Town Council to sell the rusty, old historic cannon that had been a part of the town for so many years. After hitching it up to the squad car and pulling it through town with no takers, Andy conveniently comes up with a story about how it was taken up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt, and he gets a hefty price from an antique salesman.

Opie then followed his dad’s “horse trading” lesson with a friend and traded a cufflink that he said came from George Washington’s uniform for a pair of roller skates! When Andy found out, he was furious with Opie and began to scold him.  Opie reminded his dad that he was just repeating what he had seen him do and that maybe they both had broken the golden rule! I can still see the look on Andy’s face! Of course, the story ends, as it should, with Andy making amends with the dealer for a fairer price and showing Opie that “honesty is always the best policy.”

In our society today, it seems as if there is no longer a need for teaching moral lessons such as this one. Truth and integrity are no longer cherished and honored as important values to have. For many individuals, lying seems to come so easily without any remorse or shame, and it appears to have become much more acceptable.

Yet, if the truth be known, we have probably all “fibbed” on occasion. It’s easy to convince ourselves that it is permissible to do so if it’s just a little one that really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things – it won’t hurt the individual, and it might even make them feel better than if they knew the truth. But yet, when we do “fib”, (I like that word much better than lying!)  we have to admit that it probably does give us a little stab of consciousness and shame.

We also realize how much damage can be done to our trust in another when someone is dishonest with us. And the difficult part is, we may see and know of their deceit. We can question the person, but once the words are spoken, it’s too late. The damage is done. We just have to accept that this individual didn’t want us to know the truth, or they didn’t think we would like hearing it. Or maybe they were trying to protect us or themselves by telling us a falsehood, but whatever the reason, the harm is done to our trust and sometimes, even to the relationship.

Here are some interesting results of a recent survey of 1000 people who were questioned about their honesty:

91% lie routinely about matters they consider trivial.

36% lie about important matters.

86% regularly lie to their parents.  (Wonder what age group these participants were!)

75% regularly lie to their friends.

73% lie to their siblings.

69% lie to their spouses. (Incredible!)

Are these not shocking statistics? How many lies have been told that have destroyed lives, caused pain and feelings of betrayal, and have caused many to lose trust in the very ones they loved and believed would never let them down?

In the 1st verse above, wise King Solomon wrote in Proverbs that God delights in the truth”. He is reminding us as believers that we must speak truthfully to one another and not deceive each other. Lying is diametrically opposed to the very nature of God and to the nature of the relationships He desires for us to have with each other.

In fact, Titus 1:2 tells us that God is not capable of lying, and we know He wants us to aspire to have His loving nature. He calls us to live righteous lives in faithfulness to Him. He desires that we be loving, kind, and truthful to each other and live lives of integrity and honor. May we be more trustworthy individuals, worthy of His love and grace.


Our heavenly Father, may we be the individuals you made us to be – honest, trustworthy, and dependable. For if we truly love others, how can we lie or be deceitful in our relationships? What pain we know it can cause.  Help us to be more loving, kind, and gracious with each other. In your most holy name we pray. Amen

God Gives Every Good and Perfect Gift

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

I do love a good snow! I realize how easy that is for me to say when I don’t have to get out and brave the elements or face the hazards involved.

For the last few days, I have been able to just sit in the comfort of my home and enjoy the beauty of nature as the snowflakes fell, clung to the trees, and blanketed the ground. I considered it a gift and appreciated its beauty. But I also realize it was a gift to many people in another significant way, and I understand it all too well. In our area, a big snow means closings and staying off the roads. I saw numerous postings online and spoke to others on the phone who echoed the same sentiments that I often felt. They needed this time, a rest, a break from the busyness of life. They appreciated the time at home with family and a time to do some things they enjoy or needed to do. They needed to reset, refresh, and revitalize their spirits and bodies with a break from the routine.

But then, in the next few days, the sun will be shining brightly and glistening on the snow, melting it away. This too will be a gift as we prepare to resume the normalcy and busyness of life. Our moods change and shift with time, but thankfully God does not, and we can always depend on Him.

What better day than this Sabbath day to stop and give our God praise for the gift of His goodness to us! For our heavenly Father knows how to give “the good and perfect gift”, and often it is just what we may need at the time.

How much we take for granted the gift of life, His blessings to us, His love, grace, and presence with us, and the beauty of His creation. What beautiful words in this verse and what a comforting promise describing God – the One “who does not change like shifting shadows.” 

In His last message to us in the Old Testament through the book of Malachiuntil we read about the good news of the Gospel and the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ, almost 400 years later, we read in Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord. I do not change.” 

We can rest assured that His mercy, grace, compassion, goodness, truth, faithfulness, and love will never end or change in any way. He is our God and what He promises, He has proven time and time again, that He will do.

On this day, and every day, may we be grateful for His goodness to us and for “every good and perfect gift from above”. 


Dear Lord, we are so grateful that you and your promises never change and that you give us a sure, certain, and living hope in you. May we always keep our eyes focused on you and your truths rather than on our ever changing world. Thank you for your countless and abundant blessings to us and for the gift of life. Amen

Chasing After the Wind

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

Imagine being able to ask for the one thing in life you want most above all others at this very moment! What would it be? Would you know immediately what your answer would be?

The number one response would probably be to win the lottery or to obtain wealth! The thought of never having to work another day sounds ideal, doesn’t it? And it would be pretty incredible to know we don’t ever have to worry about money again and that we would be able to buy or do whatever we want! Then, of course, with that gift would come a life of travel, adventure, our own chefs, gardeners, maids and butlers, cars, yachts, many houses in different locations, designer clothes, our own gyms and movie theaters, pools, spas, shopping, fun, and pleasure! The ideas are endless! It’s pretty intriguing to dream of such a life, isn’t it?

But how different our answers could be. Those who are facing health situations with a loved one or friend might ask for healing. Those who are grief-stricken or in despair might ask for comfort and aid. Those who are in unhappy relationships might ask for love, family, and true happiness, and some individuals might simply need to know that someone cares. Those who are struggling with challenging problems might ask for resolution and peace, and some might just need a dose of hope and assurance that the future holds more than the past. What a gift to be able to choose what we want most! Or would it?

Amazingly, Scripture tells us in 1 Kings 3: 5 that Solomon, who was known for his great wisdom, was given such a choice as he began his reign over the people of Israel after the death of his father, King David. In fact, this gift was offered to him in a dream by God Himself with these words: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 

God wanted to bless him for continuing to follow the faithful decrees of his father. Since he was a young man and so inexperienced, Solomon immediately responded by asking for wisdom to govern the people and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

God was so pleased by His request that He promised to give him precisely what he had asked for, and all the things he had not, such as wealth, fame, and success – all the attributes that no one had ever had before in such abundance and never would have again. Because of these gifts, Solomon was able to observe and experience life beyond anything we could ever imagine. With his power and wealth, he was able to have anything and everything he wanted whenever he wanted it, and he denied himself nothing.

But incredibly he discovered that none of these things mattered – that they brought no real happiness and led him away from God to a life filled with emptiness and momentary pleasures – “a chasing after the wind”  

He describes all the worldly things “under the sun” in which he tried to find fulfillment. He built magnificent palaces and beautiful homes for himself, designed breath-taking parks, gardens, and vineyards. He took over 700 women to be his wives, had 300 concubines, and he searched to find satisfaction in scientific study, wisdom, philosophy, adventure, pleasure and laughter, wine, prosperity and luxury.

He found that even with all these, life was disappointing and useless, with temporary diversions that just led to the desire and search for something else to make him happy. He kept thinking there had to be something more, something else that would satisfy his longing. Nothing ever did, and he finally came to the conclusion that without God, life had no purpose or meaning. The “Teacher” in the book of Ecclesiastes examines the meaning of life and how empty it can become without His presence.

What a lesson for all of us as we realize that those who do not have a saving belief in Christ are faced with a life that will ultimately become meaningless – irrelevant, useless,  and  “a chasing after the wind”. How sad to think that we might come to the end of our lives and realize that nothing we have ever done has meant anything, that life has been wasted in pursuit of pleasure, or that the one thing that we thought would bring us so much happiness, never did.

What joy and contentment we would miss out on without a life filled with God’s presence, love, and grace. Only He can give lasting happiness, fulfillment, and peace.


Dear God, help us to understand what brings us true meaning and purpose in life, and that is a relationship with you. May we realize that so many things of this world are fleeting and meaningless. Thank you for your loving presence with us, your hope, peace, contentment, and joy. Amen

The Greatest of These is Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  .  .  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 3; 13

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you feel much loved on this day and share your love for others!

There is no other topic that has been written about more through the ages than love – romantic love, love for family and friends, the importance of sharing our love and blessings with others, and even love for self. Some have described this powerful and amazing emotion, and the greatest gift we can ever experience in life so eloquently, but nowhere can love be expressed more beautifully than in God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 13.

Most of us are very familiar with the verses that are spoken at weddings about “love being patient, kind, and never boasting nor rude, never self-seeking, easily angered, nor proud. It reminds us that it doesn’t keep score of wrongs, and it always protects our hearts and always perseveres.”

These characteristics of love can and should apply for any and all of our relationships, for we know God desires us to love and be loved. But this passage above from verses 1 – 3 is probably much less familiar, but just as significant. What truth could be greater than the words, “without love, I am nothing.” 

Paul writes that even if we were so blessed that we could speak with the greatest eloquence in every language – even in the heavenly language of angels – or had many spiritual gifts and didn’t have love, then our lives would be as useless as the ridiculous banging of the gongs or cymbals outside the pagan temples to awaken non-existent gods during ancient times. By doing so, the people wanted to ensure that the gods would hear and answer their prayers. How amazing that we never have to be concerned about whether our God is awake and listening! With what ease and confidence we can go before His throne of grace in prayer.

Paul goes on to express that love is more important than the deepest knowledge and wisdom we could obtain, more important than the most abiding faith in Christ we could have, more important than all the generosity for others we could possess, and more important than all the accomplishments we could carry out for God’s kingdom, even being martyred in His name. When all else fails us in life, we have 3 things that remain: “faith, hope, and love.” 

But even more significant than faith or hope, loving unselfishly with our entire being and loving as Jesus loved, is our greatest calling. Without it, we have nothing. Our lives have no meaning. Even if we do everything a devoted Christian is expected to do and live the life we should, without love it is useless and in vain. For God commands one thing of us and that is to love Him and all others we come into contact with, and even those we don’t know, who may need a loving hand.

Mother Teresa said it so well when she said, “Love that is real must cost. It must hurt. It must empty us of self.” And what rewards we receive when we do, for we receive much love in return. What greater gift could there be!

*Meaningful quotes from other spiritual sources:

 “Love should always see the best in us.”

“For unless love becomes visible, it is no love at all.”

“In challenging times in our relationships, we should always go back to doing and saying the things that we used to do and say when we loved this person the most.” 

“You may have the right words to say and you may communicate them flawlessly, but without love your words are silent.”

“Love always wants what is best for the other person.”

“Imagine being so plugged into God that everything you say is what God would say.” 


Our most gracious and loving God, we love you and give you all honor, glory, and praise. Thank you for showing us how to love, for teaching us through your Word, and for loving us and showering us with so many blessings. Thank you for the loved ones you have placed in our lives and for the memories we have shared together. But most of all, thank you for loving us so much that you would send your Son – the most wonderful gift of love ever given. Amen

Love the Lord Your God

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

When I am driving, I enjoy listening to praise music! I can even sing along and no one can hear me, which is a good thing!   What power the words and music have to fill our hearts with such gratitude and love for God.

Recently, I played the song, Love the Lord Your God” over and over again, and I thought of how much we focus on the blessings of God’s love for us, but do we consider enough our love for Him?

If we were asked simply, “Do you love God?”  I am sure we would all respond, “Of course, we do!” But does God feel our love for Him?  Are we in awe and wonder often enough of His amazing love and grace? Who deserves more than our Creator and Sustainer of life to know how very much He is appreciated and loved! How can we ever show Him enough?

We could give all the correct answers such as: “I worship Him, I praise Him, I serve Him, I give to others, I try to obey him, and I tell Him in my prayers, but if God looked into our hearts and minds, would He see our full devotion and deep love for Him? Would He see our contentment in spending time with Him, and would He see our tears of joy and gratitude for His love and grace to us? Would He hear us tell others about Him, or know that we sincerely praise Him and sing joyfully about His love and goodness to us?

Our attempts seem so small in comparison to His amazing love for us.  How can we even begin to fathom how much He loves us! We find in Scripture that He loved us before we were born, He knows everything about us – even the number of hairs on our heads – He wants the best for us, He knows the number of our days on this earth, our names are written in His Book of Life, and they are even engraved on the palms of His hands. He knows our needs, the desires of our hearts, our fears, and insecurities. He has promised to always be with us, and He sent His Son to die for us.

What greater love could there be? And yet, we know there is nothing we could ever do to deserve or earn it. It is who our loving God is. He loves us with an unconditional, everlasting love, and all He asks in return is that we love Him.

The relationship into which He brings each of us to Him is one in which He desires that the more we get to know Him, the more we will love Him. He expects and commands us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. We are to love Him with our entire being, with everything we are, and with everything we have! Our love for Him should permeate every part of our lives, we should see Him in everything we do, and we should praise Him continuously for His goodness to us.

May we make a commitment in our hearts to love Him more – to let Him know how grateful we are for giving us life, for the people we love, for His comfort and strength during painful experiences, for His peace, hope, and assurance of His love, and for the promise of an eternity with Him. May our hearts be moved to love Him more.

I can think of no better way to feel and express our love to Him than reading the words, or singing along to our favorite version, of this wonderful, old hymn:  “How Great Thou Art“:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain:  Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.


And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.


When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”



Dear God, we are so grateful that you call us yours. We do love you, and want to honor you with our lives.  May we each love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, for we give you all honor, praise, and glory for the gift of life and for the gift of your saving grace. Amen 

The Apple of God’s Eye

In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye. Deuteronomy 32: 10

February is known as “the month of love and hearts!”  Hopefully, your Valentine’s Day cards and those little gifts you want to give those you care about most are purchased and ready. What a commercial holiday it has become, as flowers, cards, jewelry, teddy bears, and candy are heavily marketed, but what a privilege and joy it is to share our love with others.

But I can assure you that if you haven’t bought them yet, there is no greater gift than one that comes from your heart – a personal letter or note written with sincerity and love can mean much more than a Hallmark card. Or doing something for those special people in our lives that would bring a smile or some joy to them is worth much more than a box of candy or flowers. There is no greater gift than to give of ourselves and to give from the heart. For isn’t that what love is – to care as much or more about others as we do ourselves, to want to make their lives better, to bring them joy, and to often put their needs above our own?

“The month of love and hearts“.  We are called to love and show those we love how much they mean to us and to check the status of our own hearts.

Using the heart to symbolize love goes back many centuries, and we even find in Scripture that God tells us to love Him with all our hearts! For the heart is the center of our emotions and where our passions lie, and we have all experienced the pain of heartache at some point in our lives. We may need to think about the relationships we have and consider if there is more that we can do to make them better.

It is also a time to see if our hearts are in the right place, to have a “spiritual heart check” to think about those things that are most important to us, and to ask ourselves how much room we are giving God in our lives. He deserves so much more for the love He gives us. After all, did you know that He thinks of us as “the apple of His eye?  Now there’s a Hallmark greeting for all of us!

What an odd saying, but a pretty common idiom in our day! I am sure we have all heard the expression, “He, or she, is the apple of my eye”, meaning my pride and joy. But it is astonishing to even imagine that God would think of us in such a way and would want to use this phrase to describe His endearing love for us.

It seems like such a frivolous expression, one lightheartedly describing someone’s affection for another, but yet God wants us to know that He delights in us, He finds joy in us, He takes pride in us, and He honors us. An unusual choice of words, but some believe the expression was used because sight was considered so precious during this time, and the pupil is the tender center of the eye.

We are indeed the focal point and heart of God’s attention, and He loves us with a tenderness that is almost inconceivable to us. We are cherished above all His creations, we are special and precious in His sight, and He longs to protect us. How blessed we are to have His watchful care, to know that God looks down upon us with such tender care, and that He calls us “the apple of His eye”.

In this verse, Moses used the expression to show God’s love to the Israelites even after all their disobedience. But David, too, understood this love and expressed it so well in His prayer found in Psalm  17: 8, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” What a comforting and loving thought!


Our most holy and gracious God, we are so grateful for your love and protection. May we be ever mindful of your care and for giving us the people in our lives who are so dear to us. May we never take them for granted and take every opportunity we have to tell and show them how much they mean to us. We give you all honor and praise. Amen

I Am the Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10: 14 – 15

During our last visit with our grandkids, I bent down to tuck Miles into bed, and I thought of how many times I have done so through the years. I smiled as I remembered how he used to clutch his soft, sweet “Lammie” so lovingly in his arms. It was a small lamb, given to him by his mom when he was a baby, and it has always brought him much comfort and security.

She and I were just recently talking about how many times “Lammie”  had become “lost” and the frantic searches that took place to find him before a nap or bedtime. But we always did, and Miles was able to fall asleep peacefully with him in his arms. I thought of how much that meant to him to know that he was safe, secure, and loved, and then sleep would come.

Aren’t we all much the same in that we want and need that assurance that we are of worth, will be loved, provided for, and protected? Jesus, our loving Savior, has promised to give us all these things and more. Before He was to leave His followers behind, He spent much time teaching and helping them to understand His mission and gospel through the use of parables and symbolism. One of the most beautiful examples of this, is when He refers to Himself as the “Good Shepherd” and us, as His sheep.

Everyone in Jesus’s day knew all about sheep and shepherding so the fact that He claimed such a role for Himself shows His desire for His people to understand His love and promises. He is proclaiming that He intends to lovingly gather His flock, “His believers”, together under His care. It is such a beautiful, fitting analogy for Him and for us, as we think about the characteristics of these creatures and a shepherd’s role in protecting them.

Just like Miles’s lamb, we always think of lambs and sheep as being such sweet animals, so peaceful and docile, but actually they can be quite challenging, and shepherding can be a demanding and arduous job. A shepherd has to patiently endure long, lonely hours in often difficult conditions and is responsible for the care of each individual member of his flock.

Sheep are utterly defenseless and totally dependent upon their shepherd. He must lead them to clean water or to fields of green grass away from dry, rocky terrain or poisonous plants. They must always be under the shepherd’s watchful eye as they graze and are later led back to their pens. Without his constant care, they may wander off and become lost, swept away by rushing waters, taken by robbers, or attacked by wolves or other wild animals.

Even more telling of a shepherd’s care is the fact that each individual sheep is known by the shepherd, and he calls them by name. The sheep know him, would never follow a stranger, and would even flee before doing so. A good shepherd wants to protect, guide, and nurture his flock, and would even risk his own life to keep them safe.

Doesn’t this image of a caring shepherd bring us such comfort and security as we think of Christ being ours? We have so many of those characteristics that the sheep have. We don’t realize what is best for us, we are totally dependent upon God’s provisions for our lives, we easily become lost, we don’t recognize the dangers we place ourselves in, and we need His divine care and sovereignty over us.

Our shepherd knows us by name, wants what is best for us, and if we hear, know it is His call, and follow Him, He will keep us in His loving care. And the most beautiful sacrifice our shepherd made – He didn’t merely risk His life for the sake of His flock, our “Good Shepherd” gave His life for us, “His sheep”. What a shepherd! What love!


Dear Lord, thank you that you are indeed our shepherd. You keep us from getting lost or going astray, and if we do, you always welcome us back into your fold. Thank you for your love, protection, and guidance, but most of all, thank you for your saving grace. Amen

His Works Are Wonderful

For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139: 13 – 16

I have an old quilt given to me by my mother that is one of my most prized possessions. I remember as a little girl, pulling it out of the big trunk in her bedroom, and asking her to tell me its story over and over again.  From the earliest age, I understood its beauty and its value, and I must have asked her a hundred times if I could have it someday, and she honored my request.

If you saw it, your initial thoughts would probably be something along the order of –“Ooh, that’s really ugly!” Even though each square is unique with a different flower design, the colors are dull, dark, and dreary – not the bright colors and creative designs you usually associate with the beautiful quilts of today. The fabric is coarse and rough so unlike the soft, cottony quilts we are familiar with. The threads are frayed and coming apart in places, there are holes and stains, and because it is so thin with no padding, it would not be at all warm or cozy to curl up with. It seems basically useless and you may be thinking, why in the world would I want to keep it?

But if you looked at it with new eyes, a different perspective, you too might recognize its beauty. This quilt was made by my great grandmother over 120 years ago. She married my great grandfather when she was barely a young woman and bore him 7 healthy children, including the youngest, my grandfather, before she died during childbirth at the age of 39. (The baby died, as well.)

My grandfather was only 18 months old at the time and his father didn’t think he could care for him alone, tend to the large farm he owned, and take care of the other 6 children, so he gave him to his sister and her husband, who didn’t have children of their own, to raise. This quilt was given to my grandfather to take to his new home to keep him warm. It was the only thing of his mother’s he would ever know.

My great grandmother had made one for each of her children before their births, and with all the demands of a farmer’s wife in the mid to late 1800’s, I cannot imagine when she found the time to do so. Gardening, weaving, sewing her children’s clothes, making soap and butter, feeding the livestock, carrying water, washing the clothes, cooking meals over the fireplace, reading her Bible to her children, tending the farm – the chores go on and on. Yet she found time to lovingly sew each stitch, to prepare a quilt for each child to ensure that they would be kept warm and secure, and to pass on a little of herself to each one.

My grandfather gave it to my mother shortly before he died, and my mother passed it on to me, as well. It is the greatest treasure, such a gift. I have thought of having it restored, repaired, but I just can’t. I love all the flaws in the material, the broken threads, and the unique design, because it is the quilt I have loved since I was a child, and it is a part of my family’s story.

When I look at  this special heirloom, I can’t help but imagine the love with which she made it, the devotion she must have put into every stitch, every thread as she worked into the night, straining by the firelight to do just a little more before going to bed and rising before sunrise to care for her family. The time and care she must have placed in its design, as she planned each square, and how she must have envisioned the final product. The pride she must have had in its completion and how she must have dreamed of how it would serve its purpose in the future for the children she would bear. What a masterpiece of design! What a gift of love!

Then I think of the masterpiece of design that God made of each of us. I am so humbled as I think of Him forming us in His mind before we were created. How he must have planned every last detail and I can only imagine the love and care he must have put into our design. He must have carefully thought out each feature, each fiber of our being, and the love with which he formed us, molded us into the image of Him, is incomprehensible, indescribable, unimaginable. The pride He must have had as He breathed life into us and thought of the future he had planned for us, the excitement, anticipation, and joy He must have felt as he brought us into the world and watched us grow and change.

Then what sadness He must have felt as he watched “the world”  bruise us, disappoint us, even harm us, and change who we were meant to be. The grief He must have felt as He saw us begin to dislike and dishonor this masterpiece of design, this beautiful creation he had made of each of us. Oh, but the most grievous of all must be the heartache of  our dishonoring Our Creator and Maker Himself, by the self-condemnation we bring on ourselves and the lack of appreciation and gratitude we give him for the gift of our lives.

I can’t make this quilt into a new one, and I have no desire to do so. I want to continue to behold its beauty, honor its past, and pass its story onto my children and grandchildren. But I can appreciate the beauty and love with which its creator and designer, my great-grandmother, made it. I can look at it with new eyes, with a new perspective, and appreciate its value.

Neither can we make these bodies over, but we can look at ourselves through God’s eyes. We can honor this creation, this masterpiece He has made. Our life experiences have given us our flaws and our holes and our frayed edges, but they are a part of us – who we are as individuals – and each one of them has shaped our character and is making us into who God intended us to be. We are his treasure and his beautiful design.

We are so worthy of love. The world may not see beauty as God sees it, but we can be assured that He sees each one of us as “fearfully and wonderfully made”, His beautiful masterpiece of design.


Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you for the gift of life and all the blessings it brings. Help us to always see ourselves as your most beautiful creation. Clothe us with love, dignity, self-worth, and acceptance of who we are and who you made us to be. We give you all honor, glory and praise. Amen

*Several of you mentioned that you would love to see my great grandmother’s quilt that I wrote about. Here is a picture of the front and back.



Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38 – 39

“Nothing in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.”  What a promise! This verse has always been one of my favorites, and it gives me such assurance, hope, and peace. For it tells us that nothing can ever keep God’s love and presence from us. It gives me comfort to know that the same God who is with us, is with a little boy named Kobby.

Being a grandparent has been one of the most wonderful gifts, but it has also made us aware of how blessed our grandsons’ lives are, and how little some children have in comparison. Several years ago, we decided if we could make a difference in at least one child’s life, we would be doing something worthwhile. We researched many organizations and decided that Compassion International was one of the most reputable and caring ones we found.

After looking through the pictures of numerous children from many different countries, there was one face that kept bringing us back. Something about his little smile and bright eyes touched our hearts, and Albert Kobina Nkrumah, known as Kobby, became our sponsor child. He is 8 years old and lives in Ghana. What a blessing he has been to us. He is teaching us so much about gratitude, prayer, love, and trust in God.

Every few weeks, I write him a letter, we occasionally send small items in the mail, such as stickers, coloring pages, band aides, and trading cards, and we are able to make monetary gifts to him on his birthday and Christmas. He writes to us several times a year, sends pictures of his family, and speaks of remembering us in his prayers and asking God to bless us.

Can you imagine? He asks God to bless us. We look forward to these letters and knowing he is doing well, and I enjoy writing him. But often it is so difficult to find the words. We want to be encouraging and caring, and ask about school and his family, but other than these things, it is hard to give him news or updates on our lives when our worlds are so different. I can’t even begin to understand what it must be like to live as he and his family do. I felt such sadness for him today as I tried to think of how I could encourage him, and I so wished his life could be different.

We have grown to really care about this little fellow that we will never meet (although Miles is determined they will see each other one day), and we desperately want him to know that we care, that we want his life to be better, and that we are here to encourage, love, and pray for him. We want to help ensure that he will grow and develop as he should, so we do such a small thing to try to make a difference. We send a payment each month to aid him and his family. Our sponsorship allows him to go to school, receive nutritious meals, and get regular health screenings and medical care if needed. But most importantly, our gift will ensure that he will hear about the love of Christ and hopefully, he will learn even more to trust Him with his life and his future.

We should do so much more. He lives in such an impoverished world, filled with diseases, unsanitary conditions, and very little nutritious foods. His home is a small hut with a cement floor, and he has none of the conveniences we so often take for granted, such as running water, a bathroom, or showers, etc.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to live in his world. The environment he lives in, the lack of resources and goods his family needs, and the struggle they go through every single day to survive. I worry about this sweet child and pray daily that he has enough food to eat, won’t contract malaria or AIDS, be killed, or that he won’t feel worthless or hopeless, as so many children in poverty do. I pray that God will keep him in His care.

What a comfort to know that the same God who looks after us and promises to never leave us nor forsake us makes the same promises to Kobby. Christ lives in each of us, and He lives in this little boy, and nothing can ever separate Him from the love of Christ – not poverty, hunger, disease, or even death. He will give Kobby His strength, His presence, and His grace.  May this child always know the love of Christ.

*If you are interested in helping a child through Compassion International, or even just writing letters to these children in poverty to encourage them, go to


Dear God, there is so much about life we don’t understand, such as why we live in plenty and children such as Kobby live in such need. Be with him and his family. Keep families such as his safe, provide them with your care, and help them to feel your love and grace. Help us to be a blessing in their lives, and may they know of our love for them. Amen

God Desires Our Joy

I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of his life God has given him under the sun. Ecclesiastes 8:15

God constantly amazes me! His blessings to us, the people He places in our lives, the provisions He gives us to meet all our needs, the peace, love and contentment we can find in Him, and He still wants to give us more.

This same God whom we often see show His wrath and punishment in the Old Testament, and who speaks of such things, as obedience, righteousness, faithfulness, sin and judgment, service to Him, and repentance, also has such a tender, caring side. He has expectations for those He calls His own, but He also wants to fill our hearts with joy. We know this through His compassion, His love for us, His mercy upon us, His goodness to us, and His grace to save us.

But to even desire more for us is incomprehensible. He not only wants us, but he commends us to have “the enjoyment of life. To eat and to drink and to BE GLAD!”

Of course, he wants us to fully and cheerfully enjoy these earthly pleasures in moderation and with thankfulness in our hearts! And He even promises that if we do so, then joy will accompany us in our work all the days of our lives. We know and appreciate the wisdom of this truth. If we are happy and content, working is not nearly as tedious or monotonous. Being busy and using the talents God has given us gives us purpose and worth. And if we are content, we are more apt to wear a smile and maybe even have a song in our hearts as we toil away.

Our gracious God desires for us to laugh, to sing, and to have joy! And just imagine what a blessing we can be to those around us who may need our encouragement and laughter! Doesn’t our God just constantly overwhelm you with His love and grace? There will be seasons of sadness, as we well know, but what a gift to know that we have a God who also wants us to have seasons of blessings and happiness that bring us joy.

 “Nothing is better for a man under the sun than to enjoy life!”  May His goodness be upon you and remind you of His love and grace. Enjoy the gift of this day and use it to bless others!


Dear God, your provisions and love are such a gift to our lives. We thank you for the pleasures that you have given us and for the joy they bring. May we always appreciate the gift of life and be a blessing to others, as you have blessed us. Amen

His Compassion Never Fails

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3: 22 – 24

Have you ever felt as if God wasn’t listening to your prayers, or even worse, you felt as if He didn’t care what you were going through? It may seem as if you have been praying for this one thing for so long, and you begin to lose hope and even question your trust in Him.

We’ve all probably had this experience at some point in our lives when it seemed as if God didn’t hear us, or He didn’t give us the peace and comfort we so desperately needed. Thankfully, these times are rare, but still it’s difficult for us to understand why God doesn’t answer our prayers when we are trusting in Him (at least not in the way we want them answered).

We begin to feel anguish and confusion as to why He isn’t concerned about our pain, sadness, despair, or fear, even after we have so faithfully and diligently prayed. He seems so far away from us, and we feel forgotten, rejected, and alone. His silence makes us feel even more anxious and isolated.

Psalm 77: 8 – 9 expresses the pain of His absence so well: Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld His compassion?”

It is such a mystery why our loving God answers some prayers and not others, or why He would leave us feeling so abandoned and alone for a time. We know that His timing is not ours and that we often have to wait patiently for Him to respond, and as difficult as it is, we know He may not always answer as we wish. But as we wait, our hearts ache for His comfort and love. We feel such desperation, but if we could only remember that in the midst of our despair, our Lord is with us. We may not feel His presence, but because of His great love for us, He will always be faithful to us.

We need to remember that we can’t be consumed by fear or pain, but we must trust in His abiding love and compassion. He cares. He knows our despair and He feels our pain. He knows what it is to be us and to endure suffering. He may not show His healing, mercy, or compassion in the way we want, but we have His promise that He is with us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Yet, we wonder why God would not let us feel His presence when He knows we need Him most? There are many biblical explanations as to why He would choose to be silent during a time in our lives and fail to answer our prayers as we ask Him to heal, to save, to deliver us from pain, fear, despair, or loneliness, but none of them are easy for us to accept.

He may be molding or shaping us into who He wants us to be as we go through these experiences. He may be “refining” us for what He has planned for us in the future. He may desire for us to seek Him more, to have a deeper connection of the heart, to acknowledge our sin, to humble ourselves, or He may be testing us to see if we will depend on Him when all else fails.

We can’t know the thoughts or mind of God, but we can rest assured that He has a purpose and that He will always give us what we need to carry us through these times. He wants what is best for us, and sometimes we just need to be patient and wait on Him. We each have His promise that He “watches over my spirit.” 

He is the Giver and Sustainer of Life. As we trust in Him and rest in His grace, we will find the peace we long for. He is with us. “His compassion is new every morning.” 

What a beautiful promise of His love and grace. With Him, we can always have hope, for He promises, “Weeping may remain for the night, but joy will come in the morning.” 


Dear God, thank you for your loving care, even if we don’t see it or understand the way in which you give it.  Thank you for your “portion” that you give us each and every day. May we never doubt your presence with us or your compassion for us. Give us patience, strength, and peace when dealing with difficult situations and help us to always place our trust in you. We give you all honor, praise, and glory for the blessings of life and for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

God Gives Understanding

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. Job 32: 8 – 9

In this modern age of technology, isn’t it amazing that at the click of a finger, we can have all the information on a topic that we could possibly want – on any topic you could ever imagine!

For example, if you look up the harmful effects of chocolate, you will find 2,240,000 articles on why chocolate is bad for you. If you look up the benefits of chocolate, you will find 111,000,000. Wow! I don’t think I need to go any further, and will just go eat some chocolate!

But seriously, if I did read some of the articles, I am sure I would find some pretty strong arguments on both sides. One thing we can be sure of is that there are going to be many different viewpoints on a subject, and as we research and study, we will need to form our own opinions about what the “truth” is for us. And as for eating chocolate, I can tell you that it is not what is best for me – even if they try to convince me otherwise!

We need to take these steps to fully understand so many things in life – to research, read, question, become informed about both sides of an issue, try to figure out whose word we can trust and believe, and then come to our own conclusions. But sometimes this can be difficult, and we end up being more confused than ever.

Reading and understanding Scripture can be just as challenging as we try to gain insight and knowledge. We read the Bible and sometimes we may lack understanding as to the meaning of certain passages, and we may go to others for help, such as to our pastors, teachers, or other knowledgeable individuals. We may search for answers in Bible studies, books, and articles online, and we can expect once again that there will be many differing viewpoints and interpretations. It can all be so confusing as we question and try to understand what God has to teach us. In the end, we have to conclude that no one knows with certainty – not even the most renown scholars and theologians can agree. We may have to accept that we may never know, or we can search for our own “truths”.

Worldly wisdom, knowledge, and insight from others are important qualities to have, but they are not the most important criteria for understanding God’s Word. True understanding can only occur when we have the desire to seek Him, and our hearts are open to being taught by the Creator Himself. Then his loving inspiration and anointing grace will be on us to grasp and understand what He has to offer. We need His Spirit to bring the words to life for us. We need a heart willing to seek Him, believe in Him, and want Him to be a part of our lives.

I love the words, “It is the breath of the Almighty that gives understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.”  It is the Spirit in the young and the old that God has breathed into us to give us the wisdom to comprehend His truths, His principles, and His amazing love and grace. As we read His Word, study it, reflect on what others have understood about its truths, and learn from our own life experiences, He is giving us the wisdom to understand the truths He wants us to have.

I am reminded of the verse from 2 Timothy 3: 16:  “All Scripture is God-breathed”, and I do believe with all my heart that it was divinely inspired by God and remains our living, breathing Word. God breathed His Word into existence, and He continues to breathe His words into us today.

I believe the basic truths found in God’s Word to be infallible and His promises to be real. I don’t have all the answers.  I like everyone else, am just a flawed, lost soul, trying to find my way to Him. I am still traveling on this journey and as I do so, God is shaping me, teaching me, and opening my heart to Him. I am learning to trust Him, to believe in His love and goodness, and to find joy and peace in His presence. I share these writings and my thoughts with you, as my story – with Him by my side.

But in truth, each of us in large part is a solitary being in this life – our feelings and experiences are our own and no one else can truly understand them. We can go through life with many loved ones and friends, but in truth, we walk this journey with God alone. I believe God will reveal to each of us what He wants us to understand as we open our hearts to Him. Our relationship with Him is a personal one, and deeply unique. You have your own story of how He has touched your life, transformed your heart, and given you understanding about His love and grace. A story that only you and He can truly appreciate. May we all grow in the love of Christ as He breathes life and understanding into each of us.


Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you for giving us your Spirit to help us understand your Word – no matter our age or intellectual ability. We thank you for the wisdom to grasp the depth of your love for us and for the knowledge to understand your truths. Thank you for your love, comfort, peace, and saving grace, but especially we thank you for your presence with us. Amen 

*Good sources of reading material for spiritual growth:

There are many excellent Bible studies available. Many you can do on your own – It’s easier for me to have a regular routine with a study and explanations which help me to understand Scripture. Also, I have done studies with a small group of friends in our homes, or a larger ladies group or mixed group at our church. (In our young couples class, there is the cutest, young, “hip”, married couple who do a study together several nights a week. They love discussing the topics and learning together.  What a loving bond that creates to learn in Christ at any age, at any time!)

There are so many wonderful Bible study teachers, such as Beth Moore, Jennifer Rothschild, and Priscilla Shirer. You can purchase these workbooks at any Christian bookstore, such as Lifeway,  or order online at www. Many of them come with DVD kits for group watching, which are really good, but they are not necessary to do the study.

Favorite Beth Moore studies:  Believing God; Daniel; David – A Heart Like His; The Patriarchs; Esther – It’s Tough Being a Woman; James, Mercy Triumphs; John, the Beloved Disciple

Favorite authors and books:

Phillip Yancey –  What’s So Amazing About Grace?Disappointment With God; Where is God When It Hurts?; The Jesus I Never Knew; The Bible Jesus Read and Does Prayer Really Work?

Max Lucado – Experiencing God; Traveling Light; Great Day, Every Day

Linda Dillow – Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World; Satisfy My Thirsty Soul; Calm My Anxious Heart 

Francine Rivers – wonderful Christian fiction books – Redeeming Love; Mark of the Lion series; The Atonement Child; The Scarlet Thread; Leota’s Garden

Loving Those Who Are Difficult to Love

But I tell you who hear me:  love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6: 27

Some people are just difficult, aren’t they? Especially those who don’t like us and even wish us ill will. They are difficult to deal with, difficult to be around, and especially difficult to love! If there is one Scripture passage in the Bible that would be the most DIFFICULT to follow, I think this one might be it.

Love your enemies? Pray for those who mistreat you? What harder command could there be? How can we possibly love and pray for someone who speaks evil of us, who wants to hurt us and tear us down?

When someone wrongs us, it is human nature to want to respond by getting back at them, to hurt them as they have hurt us, or at least, we want them to know how much damage they have done. But Jesus instructed His followers to have a different approach.

This verse is from a collection of sayings and teachings by Jesus found in His Sermon on the Mount” which is often referred to as “the greatest sermon ever preached.” Here Jesus is calling for His followers and us, His believers, to do something that He knows is in total opposition to our human nature, a new and radical way of looking at those who despise us and wish us harm.

He is not commanding us to just put up with “our enemies” for the sake of appearances, or to have a mild affection for them. He is not calling us to refrain from hating them or even ignoring them. He desires more. He commands us to love them with a love that goes beyond understanding – agape love – love that is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional, a perfect description of how Jesus loves us.

Can you imagine? Jesus wants us to put the interests of those who mistreat us above our own, to sacrifice our own feelings and what we want, for theirs, and to focus instead on their needs, and to love them unconditionally. He expects more from us and longs to transform our hearts. He commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who have ill will towards us. His desire is for us to forgive whatever these individuals have done to us, just as He has forgiven us for all the wrongdoings in our lives. He wants us to always respond with love and kindness to others.

What expectations our God has of us, as He teaches us to love others as He loves us. Have you ever heard this saying, “We are never more like Jesus Christ than when we are doing good to someone who doesn’t deserve it.” ?

God demands us to live by the Golden Rule – to treat all people, even our enemies, in the way we want to be treated, with compassion and respect. We must love them, do good to them, ask God to bless them, and pray for them. We must pray that their hearts will be changed and that they may look at us and others with a more loving spirit.

It sounds impossible for any and all of us, doesn’t it? And it is. We can’t do it alone, but we are told and must believe, that through Him nothing is impossible.


Dear God, you know our hearts and how difficult it would be for us to treat those who mistreat us with love and kindness. Yet this is your command for us and through you, your Spirit, your guidance, and your grace, we pray we will be able to do so. Thank you for loving us even when we aren’t so loveable ourselves and help us, through your love, to love others unconditionally. We praise your most holy name. Amen

God’s Sovereign Hand

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 14:4

Do you ever have moments when you feel small and insignificant? Can you understand why some individuals might feel as if no one even cares about them at all or even notices they are in the world? How sad for them not to know how much God does!

They could use a study on the book of Esther. It is one of the most amazing stories in the Bible. In fact, it is unique in that God’s name is never once mentioned, yet His sovereignty and faithfulness to His people is seen throughout the story.

It is more intriguing than any book you could read, or any movie you would ever see. It is a story of drama, romance, courage, faith, and obedience. And it illustrates, without a doubt, that you are significant to God and that He has a purpose for your life. You may feel powerless and expendable, or even unworthy of His love and grace, but in God’s eyes, you are important and necessary. The person you are, even with your conceived or real limitations, might make you perfect for the role God needs or wants you to fulfill. To paraphrase the verse above:  “Who knows but that you may have been born just for some particular moment in time to carry out God’s divine providence?” What a humbling thought!

Esther was placed in a position to be queen in the Persian Empire for her moment in God’s plan. According to Scripture, during King Xerxes rule around 475 BC, he held a huge banquet for everyone in his kingdom. When he became drunk with the men, he ordered his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, to appear before them wearing her beautiful crown (some scholars interpret this to mean wearing ONLY her crown and nothing more. Hhm!) But she refused, so as punishment, he banished her from the palace.

To choose a new queen, he held a beauty contest. (Before a candidate could come before the king, she had to complete 12 months of beauty treatments, 6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 with perfumes and cosmetics. Can you imagine, ladies? Then she would spend one night with the king, and then be returned to a harem with an eunuch until the decision was made. Hhm again!)  The king chose Esther.

On the advice of her uncle Mordecai, her guardian, she kept secret her Jewish heritage, even after their marriage. The king’s prime minister, Haman, ordered everyone to bow down to him. But when Mordecai, who came to the palace gate every morning to try to hear some news about Esther, refused to do so because of his Jewish faith, Haman decreed that all Jews would be killed on a certain date.

Mordecai, through messengers, urged Esther to go before the king and plead for the lives of their people. Esther at first refused, because it was a rule of law that anyone who went before the king without being summoned would be killed. Mordecai reminded her that she and her people would perish under the Jewish death decree if she remained silent. And as he said above, “and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” 

She finally told him to ask their people to fast and pray, and she would go before the king. She answered, “If I perish, I perish.” 

The king received her out of his love for her, granted her wish that her people be saved and ordered Haman to be killed. So on the day intended for their destruction, the Jewish people were saved. (This day known as Purim is still celebrated on the Jewish calendar.) What courage and faith Esther had displayed!

Is that not the most fascinating story? And it certainly makes one think about the choices we sometimes have to make. Do we see God’s hand in our circumstances, or are these things merely coincidental?

We may have been given a great responsibility with whatever position or honor we might have, whether it is in our family, job, church, school, neighborhood, or with our talents or abilities. We may need to ask ourselves,” Would God have me act, and is this my moment in time to make a difference?”  We are told to pray, obey, and act by faith. Like Esther, this could be our time!


Dear God, thank you for the stories from your Word to teach us and help us to understand that your hand is often in our lives to carry out your purpose. Help us to seek your divine providence for our lives and take advantage of the opportunities before us. Amen

Do Not Be Anxious

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6 – 7

This is my verse, my signature verse, and it has always brought such comfort and assurance. I have always been one to worry and to get overly anxious, but saying this verse over and over to myself has calmed my spirit so many times through the years.

The words the peace of God which transcends all understanding just speaks to my soul and quiets any turmoil I may be feeling. By praying for His grace and strength, I am relinquishing all my cares and placing my confidence in Him. Rather than trusting in my own power to deal with a situation, and with the most grateful heart that I can do so, I am calling upon God to help me with whatever concern I may have. Just by reminding myself of the strength I can find in Him, by going to Him in prayer and then by feeling His presence, I receive such a calmness and peace.

I know it seems to defy human logic and explanation, and it’s most certainly one of the divine gifts of His Spirit in us. And what a gift it is! By placing my fears in His hands, I am trusting in Him to give me the perspective I need and the wisdom and guidance to deal with whatever challenge I face. I know I will be under His watchful care and can rest my troubled heart and soul. And how I need His peace and presence during these times of uncertainty.

It’s so easy to become obsessed with our worries. We often let our circumstances cloud our vision and we build our concerns into something beyond what they actually are. They can often take away our energy, our time, our contentment, our joy, and make us feel less secure and life much more uncertain.

I recently read some interesting statistics on the average person’s anxiety: “40% of the things we worry about will never happen; 30% are about things in the past that we can’t change; 12% are based on criticism from others (which is probably untrue anyway); 10% of the things we worry about deal with our health (which stress doesn’t help); and 8% are about real problems that we face and can actually fix.”

How much contentment and peace of mind we miss out on with all our worries. God wants peace to make up the fabric of who we are, and He wants to surround us with His loving presence every day, but especially during the anxious times. He gives rest for our hearts and our minds. May we choose to believe in Him and in His promises.


Our most gracious and loving God, we come to you with grateful, humble hearts that we can place all our worries and concerns with you. Thank you for your presence with us, for your grace to get us through the difficult times, for the peace your love brings, and for the strength we find in you. Thank you for the blessings of life. Amen

To Know Him More

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1: 9 – 11

I think one of the greatest gifts we can give another person is to pray for them. It’s comforting to know that others are going to God on our behalf, and I am sure all of us have felt the strength and peace that prayer can bring. How sad to know that some people never have their names lifted up to God. Can you imagine no one caring enough about us to ask God to watch over us and bless us?

Yet, in all the things we pray for – good health, His protection over us, strength in times of difficulty, comfort in our despair, guidance in our decision making, His presence with us during challenging times, the joy of His blessings, and that His everlasting hope and love will be upon us – there is one more request that should be the most important of all. We should pray that we will seek God more, that we will come to know Him and His saving grace with a deeper understanding, that our love for Him will grow, and that all our blessings will flow out to others. May we pray not only to feel the love of Christ, but to know Him with all our hearts.

In this passage, Paul had written a letter to the young church at Philippi to encourage them, and he included this prayer for them. He prays their love for Christ will grow and “abound” until it spills over into the lives of others. He prays this love will increase their desire to gain more knowledge and insight into the teachings, life, and Gospel of Christ. As they learn more about Him through His Word and through prayer, Paul trusts they will begin to make better judgments and decisions through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that they will someday be found “pure and blameless” in the sight of Christ.

This is what God desires for us – to sincerely and genuinely seek Him and to know Him. He wants our love and obedience, but not out of a sense of duty or overriding guilt, but out of our overwhelming love for Him. Our goal and purpose should be to love Him more each day and to increase our knowledge and discernment of His Word.

We should read Scripture, study it, reflect on it, memorize it, and let it live in our hearts. For only then, can we truly know who God is and what He desires for our lives. May we give Him the honor and glory He deserves. May we truly know what it is to live in His loving presence.


Dear God, may this be our prayer for all those we love and care about. Thank you for loving us so much that you would send your Son with His saving grace. Open our hearts to learn more about you through your Word.  May we help others to seek you and to know you. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen

A New Thing!

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43: 18 – 19

I don’t know if it’s these dreary, winter days, or just because I am getting older, but I have been spending some time reflecting on the past and remembering fond memories. And of course, I couldn’t help but think,“Where did the years go?”  In fact, I remember wishing many times then that I could stop the passage of time.

As I was thinking about some of those experiences, I began to wonder just for the pure joy of it – if I had the opportunity to choose any 5 days of my life to relive, (to go back in time, or even watch onscreen like a movie), which ones would I choose?  But I had to stretch it to 8 – there were none I could eliminate. And then I realized they were all about family! Nothing can compare with those special memories! It’s intriguing to think about those possibilities and which ones we would choose, isn’t it?

I remember the first time I read this verse, and I kept thinking about reasons why such a verse would be in Scripture. It seemed so unlike God to not want us to have the joy of sweet memories in the past. But after much reflection, I realized how much love, and how many new experiences, new people, and how much happiness I would have missed, if I could have stopped the passage of time and left things the way they were, as I thought I wanted. How sad to think of what I would have missed – especially  the increased faith and trust God has given me along the way.

This is who God is – always creating newness – new possibilities for life and new hopes for the future. He is the One who takes our endings and makes them into brand new beginnings. He has a plan for us, and that plan often stretches us in ways we could never imagine or thought possible – often with even humbling circumstances. But many times our past experiences have given us the faith and strength to get through the new ones as we remember His love and grace. What a new thing He has done, and does, in us when that happens! And what joy we have along the way!

I think what God is trying to tell us is that the past is important and sometimes even necessary to remember, but we shouldn’t dwell on it so much that we miss out on what He is giving us in the present, or what He has in store for the future. We should let Him be our guiding force and trust that He has something planned for us – far beyond our own expectations.

Oh, there may be challenges along the way, but from experience, I know there will also be much joy! New things springing up all around us! What a reminder to not miss out on what He has planned for us during these cold winter days! We need to appreciate and enjoy each one! And there’s always spring just around the corner – with all the newness it will bring!


Dear God, thank you for new beginnings and all the opportunities you present to us. We are so grateful that you walk along the path of life with us, guiding us and helping us along the way. Thank you for past memories, but also for each new day with all its new possibilities and blessings. Amen


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see . . .  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:1,6

Faith is a difficult thing to express and define, isn’t it? Are there degrees of faith? Can you have a little? Or is it something you have to believe in with all your heart?

We speak of having faith in others and then they let us down. I speak of having faith in God, and then at times, it is as if I don’t have the deep faith I thought I had – at least not with 100% certainty.

If you were asked to express the meaning of your faith in God, what would your response be? I looked in several dictionary sources to see how Webster’s and others might define faith, and all of them seemed so inadequate and devoid of emotion. None of them seemed to describe in a heartfelt way one of the most foundational truths we as Christians have.

The common theme among all of them was: “a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.” This definition of faith seems to imply that our minds can accept and believe in something that is totally unfounded, and just made by a conscious decision. For some things, that might be true. But, if you have ever tried to convince individuals to have faith, or more faith, in God, you have probably seen how difficult it is to get them to trust and believe. Their minds are filled with questions as they seek proof and logic. And if they don’t feel the need or have the emotions of the heart, having faith just seems senseless and unreliable to them.

Although I believe God has shown and certainly proven His authority and veracity with all of creation and with His presence in our lives and in our world, He has no need or desire to prove Himself. He asks us to accept him purely on faith. Faith is not dependent on a list of doctrines, or on how many times God has answered our prayers. Nor is it even based on our determination to believe in Him.

Our faith in God truly begins in the heart. When we can begin to believe in God – when we can come to the place where we can truly know that He lives in our hearts – when we can feel with all certainty that His presence is with us, when we see His faithfulness in difficult times, and when we truly understand how much He loves us, we can begin to trust in Him. Then the mind can begin to accept or become aware of His truths.

Our faith grows because of our own personal experiences with God, and we can and should help others to trust Him more with our own testimonies about His love and grace. We can never base our faith just on what God has done in our lives without basing it on who He is. We must see Him as our loving Creator and Sustainer of life.

Faith instills hope and helps us to understand the truths that give meaning and purpose to life. As much as we want to believe that if He truly loves us, He would answer our prayers in the way we want them answered, we also have to trust His promise that somehow, someway, He will work all things for our good. As difficult as that is, when we can finally wrap our minds around the incomprehensible idea that He loves us, wants the best for us, and will always be with us, then we can trust Him with all our hearts.

This beautiful definition of faith found in His Word sums it up much better than any dictionary ever could: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  

Don’t we all long to know that someone truly cares for us and is watching out for us? Wouldn’t it be so reassuring to know that we can depend on that “someone” totally, 100% of the time, with all assurance and certainty, and with no doubt whatsoever, even when we can’t see evidence of it? What freedom to be able to rest in God, to know and trust completely and undeniably in a God who loves us and has our best interests at heart!

We have that, right before us. But to receive that gift of His grace, we must believe IN God and trust IN His promises. To do so is a journey, a process, a “walk of faith”, and as we continue to travel it, His presence and truths will become even more real and precious to us, and our faith will grow if we “earnestly seek Him”.


Dear God, thank you for your promises and truths found in your Word. Help us to increase our trust in You, and to remember all the times you have been faithful to us with your presence, your strength, your comfort, and your love. What greater gift could there possibly be in this life than to know that you are with us and desire what is best for us. We are so grateful for your grace and the promise of eternal life with you. Amen

Sharpen One Another

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I have some interesting questions for us to think about. Who would you say are the people in your life who have influenced you the most? Who has had the most spiritual influence on you? And who in your life keeps you “sharp” for being the person Christ would have you be?

If you are like me, my answers came pretty quickly. Undoubtedly, my parents were by far the most influential people in my life. My dad taught me the importance of hard work and through that work ethic, he taught me how to earn value and worth as a person through my efforts. He was the one who planted the seed that I should become a teacher. It was his dream from as early as I can remember, and it gave me confidence that he believed in that possibility. That inspired me to always try to do my best and make good grades. But it was when I was in Mrs. Edith Carson’s 5th grade class that she grew that seed even more with her love and enthusiasm for teaching. I knew then, that I wanted to be the teacher she was, and she became my inspiration throughout my career.

But, I would have to say that it was my mother who was first and foremost the most influential person in my life in every way. She was such an example of a loving, caring mother with the most unselfish and compassionate heart. But most importantly, she was, and has been a spiritual influence throughout my life. She had the most unwavering faith, the sweetest hope and joy in Christ, and a love for Scripture that has inspired me to read, learn, and appreciate His Word even more. Even after she left us, her love of God and faith still lingers and she “sharpens” me every day with her memory. I want her strong faith. I want her deep trust in God and her hope for all eternity. She gives me the courage and strength to face each difficulty or situation that comes my way, and I am so very grateful for the lessons she taught me.

Then, there are many others I could name who have “sharpened” me with their faith – family, friends, and church members, and I feel so blessed to have had such wonderful godly, Christian people walking along side of me throughout my life.

Food for thought, isn’t it, especially when we think about the people in our lives who continue to “sharpen” us like iron. The images of iron are used throughout Scripture in a number of ways, but it always represents strength and endurance.

All of us are impacted in some way by the people who pass in and out of our lives. Some give us strength and encouragement, help our faith to grow, and inspire us to be the individuals Christ would have us be. Others hinder our spiritual growth, distract us from God and our faith, and keep us from growing into who we could be. We become those we associate with and they help form our present values, convictions, morals, habits, and goals in life. We need people in our lives who will inspire, motivate, and help us to be faithful and loving individuals.

Then comes one more important question for us to think about – Are we one of those who helps “sharpen”, or one who “dulls” another person’s potential to grow in Christ?


Dear Lord, thank you for the people in our lives who have given us a heritage of faith and trust in you, and for those who have helped our faith to grow. Help us to be individuals who can help “sharpen” others with our encouragement and love to become the person you would have them be. Amen

Come and Rest

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6: 31

Is there anything more peaceful than just sitting and watching snow fall as it blankets the ground and fills the trees?  Yesterday as I did so, I felt guilty because there were so many things I should have been doing! Yet, these times are so rare to just soak in the beauty of nature, and I did so, just enjoying the stillness and God’s loving presence with me.

Why is it that we often feel so uncomfortable just resting, being still, and enjoying the quiet? The idea is even quite foreign to most of us who have never been conditioned to do so. Our lives are much too busy, too noisy, too preoccupied to even think of taking the time! Could it be that we actually don’t like the idea of being still, sitting in the quietness, and being alone? Do we fear the thoughts and emotions that might rise to the surface if we did?

Yet, we are weary and tired people, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are so many demands on our lives, so many expectations others have of us, so much to get done on our lists, so much to worry and think about, and so little time for any of it. We all seem to have “hurry sickness” – always on the go, “a blender brain” – with thoughts swirling around in our heads, and “mental chatter” – as we remind ourselves of all we have to do. Our bodies and minds are exhausted, overwhelmed, and often numb as we go through the motions of living.

Life can become mundane and monotonous, and our hearts can become so filled with loneliness, heartache, worry, shame, guilt, longings that haven’t been met, disappointments in relationships, hurtful experiences of the past, lost hopes for the future, and a deep restlessness of spirit, that there is little room left over for our loving God and especially no room for the joys of life.

He understands and He knows just what we need. He has a gift for us and that gift is rest. He longs to fill us with His calmness and peace. The words of this verse call out to us in such an intimate, loving way, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

Can you imagine any more loving words than for our Savior and Lord to say to each of us, “Come with Me. Spend time with Me. Let me rest your weary soul.” Not rest as in sleeping, or reading, or listening to music, but quiet time spent alone with Him to refresh our spirits, quiet our souls, and renew our trust in Him to take all our cares away.

Jesus said these words to His own followers when he saw them pressed on all sides, being overwhelmed by prayer requests, and not even having time to stop and eat and rest. And He knows what we face in our present time and the fast-paced life we live. These are the same urgent requests He gives us today – stop, rest, find quiet, get away, refresh. Even He regularly withdrew to be alone and pray with His Father, and He knows we need it even more!

We need to rest in His stillness and feel His love. And in the quietness, we need to celebrate all that is good and beautiful. As we rest in Him, He will give us the assurance that all is well. Can you imagine the freedom of just letting it all go, freeing your mind of all the cares and worries of this world and spending time with our God who loves us so and longs to give us rest? What a gift He is offering us!


Our heavenly Father, we know of your deep love for us and of your desire for us to come to you for needed rest. Help us to take that brief period of time with you each day to forget the cares of this world so you can quiet our restless spirits and fill us with your love, grace, and assurance. Amen.

Fear Not For You are Mine

But now, this is what the Lord says – He who has created you . . . “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, their flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43: 1 – 3

Fear is such a basic human instinct. I recently read that it is “one of the most common and damaging emotions we can have”. 

But, thankfully, God understands that about us, and it may be why the phrase “FEAR NOT!” is found in Scripture over 60 times. He knows it is our nature to fear, especially the unknown – those uncharted waters we haven’t sailed through before, especially the future for some of us who tend to fret and worry the most. And then there are the dangers we worry about – the ones that we know we and our loved ones are surrounded by every day of our lives – things we can never foresee or prevent. The psychological experts tell us to face our fears head on, and then they are no longer so frightening. We are to deal with them, gain victory over them, and move on. Easier said than done, isn’t it?

I remember a Ladies Bible study that addressed this issue, and we were to write down our 3 biggest fears. Then we were to think about what would happen if those fears came true. Of course, the answer is that life goes on, and God will be there to help us get through those challenging times. We have His assurance that He will give us the mercy and grace to handle whatever they may be.

Yet, we question and don’t understand why they occur, or why they might come to some people and not to others. We have seen and heard stories of horrible, tragic events that have happened to individuals and families, and we may think to ourselves that there is no way we could endure such a tragedy. Yet, we have seen evidence of those who have, many with a deep, abiding faith, who have gone through enormous pain and have handled it with such strength, grace, and trust in God. And hopefully by the grace of God, so would we. The human spirit is amazingly resilient, and God makes it possible to do so, as He carries us through these difficult times.

I am so comforted by this verse and its message. We see that God cares for His creations, He knows us by name, and He calls us His. He tells us He will be with us as we pass “through the waters and through the fires” of life. The experiences in our lives may be painful and frightening, but we have His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us – no matter what we may go through – flood, fire, accidents, illness, and even death. What a reassuring thought to know that we, or our loved ones, may not make it through to continue life in this world, but we have His promise that He will be with us as He carries us into the next.

We may not know WHAT the future holds, but we know WHO holds the future. I try to remember these words as I get anxious and fearful. He cares for us. He claims us as His own and is very protective and loving of us. May the reminder of His love and divine presence help calm our fears and anxious hearts. May we trust in Him.


Dear God, thank you that you carry us through the painful and frightening events in our lives. Thank you for your divine protection and for the mercy and grace you give us. May we place our fears in your hands and trust in you always. Amen

Build Each Other Up

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doingI Thessalonians 5: 11

Are friends not one of the greatest gifts that life has to offer! And if you are blessed to have really good ones as I do, they truly care about your well-being and they love you unconditionally for who you are. They can be so encouraging, supportive, and complimentary – even when we know that we don’t deserve it. And often, it’s as if they know right when we need them most and exactly what we need to hear!

And who else is more deserving of our encouragement and love than those who are most dear to us. Often we are so busy or complacent with our families that we don’t even take their need of encouragement into consideration – our spouses, children, parents, siblings, and any other relatives closest to us. We need to “build them up” each and every day by letting them know that we value and appreciate them and will always be there to encourage and cheer them on.

A kind word or a compliment can be the biggest blessing. As Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” When we are discouraged, doubting ourselves or feeling worthless, when we’re struggling or confused, or when we are in pain or facing a difficult situation, words can be so healing, strengthening, and renewing. God knows this is a harsh world we live in, and we need all the encouragement we can get – not from just our loved ones and friends, but from anyone and everyone. We all can use more kindness – in whatever form it comes!

Sometimes even our silence can speak volumes and can be so hurtful. It can make a person feel so insignificant or unworthy of our time or attention. God wants us to consider one another’s feelings or need for encouragement, affirmation, appreciation, and love. And yet, in our selfish natures, we often find ourselves more focused on “me” than on others. We don’t take the time or make the effort, or we purposely withhold words that we know someone needs or would long to hear. We need to make more of an effort to focus on others and be the affirming voice they need.

We recognize the power of our words to inflict pain, but they can also be equally as powerful in conveying love and concern.  God desires for us to edify and “build” each other up – not just those who are our friends or loved ones, but everyone around us – strangers and even those we find difficult to love, and in doing so, we are honoring Him. He sees into our hearts and our true motivations.

This statement sums it up well: “Words can be a window into our souls and our speech can reveal our hearts.” May we become better instruments of His love and grace and encourage each other.


Our most kind and loving Father, thank you for the gift of friends and loved ones you have placed in our lives. Help us to be mindful of their needs, as well as, those of all others in our path, and may we encourage them with our words. May we take advantage of the opportunities we have been given to share your love and grace to those who need it most. Amen

Worship the Lord of Heaven and Earth

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. Acts 17: 24 – 25

Today is a day of worship and many of us will be doing so in our own churches. But this verse reminds us that God is not confined to a temple or dwelling. God lives in our hearts, and as believers, we can worship Him anywhere.

For those who say they don’t find it necessary or important to be in church to worship God because they can sense His presence on a golf course, in the woods hiking, or sitting on their deck enjoying the beauty of the day, this passage confirms their beliefs. This may even take away some of those little “twinges of guilt” they may have been feeling.

But there’s more – if those who believe this are really more interested in relaxing their minds and bodies and enjoying nature, rather than on the true meaning of worship – it’s not a very strong position to take! For true “worship” has significance quite different than merely just sensing God’s presence and basking in our world’s beauty. True worship should be a time in which we are refreshing our spirits and spending time with our Creator in gratitude and praise.

Billy Graham, the much renowned and respected evangelist, has described it this way: “Worship takes place when we focus our hearts and minds completely on God. When we truly are worshipping God, our whole attention is on Him – who He is, how great He is, what He has done for us, how much He loves us. Only then can we praise Him as we should, and only then can we grow closer to Him. Our goal should be the same as that of the psalmist: ‘Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name’. (Psalm 103:1). Whenever our hearts are focused on God, then we can worship Him – whether we are walking in the woods He created, or reading our Bibles to discover His truth, or joining together with other believers in church.”

In other words, we can behold God’s beauty and glory anywhere, but to acknowledge it, appreciate it, and give Him honor and glory for it, is essential to our praise and worship. Everything that exists comes from His hands. We need to seek Him and come to know His loving nature through hearing His Word and spending time in His presence. We need to recognize that our amazing God has infinite knowledge that is the essence of His being.

Scripture tells us that His ways are unfathomable and unsearchable, and His character is perfect and compassionate. He gives us the gift of life and breath, and He lives in our hearts. We worship Him, not because He needs anything that we can give Him, but rather, because He is continually giving to us. He supports life and all of His creations with His divine providence. Since He is all sufficient, we can give Him nothing He needs, but we can and should give Him what He deserves, and that is our worship.

God loves us and longs to be with us. He cares about our lives, and He is aware of all things. What a comforting and wonderful thought!

Worshipping God should be about encountering Him, connecting with Him in a deep, personal, and passionate way and expressing our love and adoration for Him. God wants more than our presence in church with Him on Sunday mornings.  He wants all of us, all of the time – our minds, bodies, emotions, hearts, and souls. Our worship should be done with enthusiasm, joy, and gratitude and a desire to catch a glimpse of God Himself to refresh our spirits and renew our trust in Him.

What a gift it is to do so, for as we worship and praise Him, our eyes are taken off our own circumstances and the problems of this world and placed on Him, who will carry us through all life has to bring. Let us worship the Lord of heaven and earth in spirit and in truth always.


Dear Lord of all creation, may we worship you with humble, loving hearts full of honor and praise for all the many blessings of life you give us. May we not look just to satisfy our own desires, but to have a personal encounter with you and worship you in spirit and truth with our entire being. In your most holy name we pray. Amen